As you may recall, a cease fire was supposed to be implemented in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo this week in order to allow the evacuation of civilians and rebel fighters, as well as allow much needed humanitarian aid to reach those who are trapped. The eight hour “humanitarian pause” officially went into effect Thursday, though Russian and Syrian forces actually stopped their relentless bombing campaign on Tuesday and extended the cease fire by 24 hours. Russia opened eight corridors for people to evacuate, but designated two to be used by rebels that are trying to ouster Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Rebels are leery of accepting the evacuation offer, saying they fear they will be assassinated on the roads out of town. In all fairness, some of the militants fighting in Aleppo are part of the al-Nusra Front, which is a breakaway group from al-Qaeda and that the international community regards as a terrorist group. Reports so far indicate continued clashes between Syrian forces and the rebels, and few residents heeding calls to leave. Soon after the truce took effect on Thursday, some of the corridors reportedly came under fire, with opposition and government forces blaming each other. Reporters on the ground said Syrian government forces were targeting the corridors with sniper and rocket fire. Keep in mind, Russia has claimed all along that they are only involved in Syria because they want to help wipe out the Islamic State terrorist group. Their actions speak to an entirely different agenda though, which would be helping President al-Assad regain power, something the U.S. and its allies oppose. And it now appears Russia is gearing up for an even more devastating attack on the city. According to a NATO diplomat, Russian warships are carrying fighter bombers that are likely to reinforce a final assault on Aleppo in two weeks. He tells Reuters that they are deploying all of the Northern fleet and much of the Baltic fleet in the largest surface deployment since the end of the Cold War. “This is not a friendly port call. In two weeks, we will see a crescendo of air attacks on Aleppo as part of Russia’s strategy to declare victory there,” the diplomat said. There are estimated to be about a quarter million civilians still trapped in the city. Russia has already been accused of brutal war crimes in the conflict and an even more aggressive air campaign is sure to exacerbate tensions with the West even further.